Mossad allegedly uncovered Iranian plot to kill Israeli, American officials abroad

Israeli consulate Istanbul TurkeyISRAEL’S MOSSAD INTELLIGENCE AGENCY allegedly foiled a plot by Iranian intelligence to send assassins abroad and kill an Israeli diplomat, an American military official and a French reporter, according to reports. The information about the alleged plot first surfaced late last week in the Iran International News Channel, a British-based Iranian news agency, which is opposed to the government in Tehran. The news agency claimed that the plot had been organized by the Quds Force, the paramilitary wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Shortly after news of the alleged plot emerged, Israeli media reported the existence of a video of an Iranian man who identifies himself as Mansour Rasouli (or Rassouli). In the video, the man claims to be a member of Unit 840, the part of the Quds Force that plans and executes operations overseas. He also claims that he was paid $150,000 to plan the assassination of an Israeli consular official in Istanbul, Turkey, as well as an American military general stationed in Turkey. A third target for assassination was a Jewish French journalist. The names of the alleged targets are not known. He adds that he had planned to carry out the assassinations with the use of networks of drug smugglers.

Rasouli then claims that the Quds Force had promised to pay him an additional $1 million following the successful conclusion of the assassinations. Toward the end of his statement, Rasouli says he had made an “error of judgment” in agreeing to participate in the operation, and promises to refrain from targeting individuals for assassination in the future. According to Iran International, Rasouli’s interview was filmed by officers of the Mossad in Turkey, where he was allegedly captured before he was able to execute the first of the planned assassinations. However, Israeli media later claimed that the Mossad officers filmed the interview in Iran, during a covert operation that resulted in the capture and interrogation of Rasouli.

IntelNews readers will recall that, in October of last year, Israel accused Iran of being behind a plot to kill Israeli citizens in Cyprus. The accusation came after the arrest of an Azeri national, who was reportedly found carrying a gun fitted with a silencer in the Cypriot capital Nicosia. A year earlier, it was reported that American intelligence agencies had uncovered an Iranian plot to kill the United States’ ambassador to South Africa, in an effort to avenge the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani by the United States in January of 2020.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 02 May 2022 | Permalink

Ukrainian forces allegedly foiled plan by Chechen paramilitaries to kill president

Russia UkraineA PLOT BY A notorious Chechen paramilitary group to assassinate the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, was foiled by Ukrainian forces, according to a Ukrainian government official. The claim was made on Tuesday by Ukraine’s Center for Strategic Communications, a government-linked enterprise that works closely with the country’s Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The source of the allegation is Oleksiy Danilov, chair of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council—which is believed to be closely linked with the Center for Strategic Communications. Danilov said on Tuesday that members of the Kadyrovtsy (known in English as Kadyrovites), a Chechen paramilitary regiment, had been dispatched to Ukraine in order to “eliminate” Zelensky.

The Kadyrovites are rooted in the Chechen separatist movement of the 1990s, when Chechen militants fought against the Russian military. But a sizeable group of Chechen fighters entered the conflict on behalf of the Russian state when their leader, Akhmad Kadyrov, took Moscow’s side during the Second Chechen War. Today they operate as a personal protection squadron for Kadyrov’s son, Ramzan Kadyrov, who rules Chechnya on behalf of the Kremlin. Occasionally the Kadyrovites have been participated in foreign missions on behalf of Moscow, notably in Syria in 2017 and 2018.

Danilov said the assassins had attempted to approach Kiev from the northwest, separated in two groups. One of the groups was allegedly “destroyed” in the town of Hostomel, which borders the northwest suburbs of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. Another group had come “under fire” in Kiev, Danilov claimed. It is worth noting that, according to Danilov, Ukrainian forces “received information” about the alleged assassination plot by agents of Russia’s Federal Security Service —Russia’s counterintelligence and counterterrorism agency— who “do not want to take part in this bloody war”.

Earlier this week, British newspaper The Times reported that 400 Russian paramilitaries belonging to the Wagner Group were heading to Kiev in order to assassinate Zelensky. Wagner, a secretive security firm believed to operate on behalf of Russian military intelligence, first appeared in eastern Ukraine in 2014. Since then, the company has operated around the world as a private paramilitary entity. Its mission is allegedly to afford the Kremlin “plausible deniability” capabilities for operations in the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 03 March 2022 | Permalink

Ukrainian leader Zelensky says Russian assassins are in Kiev with orders to kill him

Volodymyr ZelenskyTHE PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE, Volodymyr Zelensky, warned on Thursday that teams or Russian assassins have already entered the nation’s capital, Kiev, with orders to kill him and his family. Zelensky made this statement during a late-night address to the nation from an undisclosed location, presumably in Kiev. Referring to “enemy sabotage groups”, he said they had already “entered Kiev” and were seeking to “destroy Ukraine politically by destroying [its] head of state”.

Zelensky referred to “information we have”, according to which he had been “marked by the enemy as the number one target” and his family as “the number two target”. The statement was an apparent reference to an alleged “kill/capture list” that Moscow plans to put to use in Ukraine. As intelNews explained last week, United States officials have said that the purpose of the alleged list is two-fold: first, to minimize popular resistance by Ukrainians to an invading Russian army; and, second, to destabilize the government in Kiev, so that a pro-Russian government can eventually replace it.

According to the United States government, the list contains the names of senior Ukrainian politicians, Ukraine-based critics of the Russian and Belarusian governments, as well as journalists and other activists. According to Washington, the alleged list is maintained by the foreign intelligence arm of the Russia’s Federal Security Service—known as the Service for Operational Information and International Communications—or the Fifth Service, in short. The Fifth Service is political action of a covert nature, which is aimed at electoral subversion, political influence campaigns, psychological operations, and the undermining of groups or movements that Russia perceives as adversarial.

On Thursday, Foreign Policy’s national security and intelligence reporter Amy MacKinnon told SpyTalk’s Jeff Stein and Jeanne Meserve that the existence “kill/capture” list seemed credible, when one considers the Kremlin’s long history of assassination operations. MacKinnon was the first reporter to write about the alleged list. She told SpyTalk that it was part of a “campaign of arrests and assassinations”, which Moscow aimed to carry out on Ukrainian soil. She added that, although the names of potential victims have not been revealed, the list is “quite detailed and relatively extensive”.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 25 February 2022 | Permalink

Israeli ex-intelligence chief claims Israel had role in top Iranian general’s killing

Qasem SoleimaniTHE RECENTLY RETIRED DIRECTOR of Israel’s military intelligence agency has claimed in an interview that Israel had a role in the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, who led Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Soleimani was arguably Iran’s most revered military official. He was killed by an American targeted drone strike on January 3, 2020, in Baghdad, Iraq. The same missile strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who commanded the Popular Mobilization Committee, an umbrella organization composed of around 40 pro-Iranian militias in Iraq. The then-American president, Donald Trump, claimed responsibility for the attack.

In the months that followed Soleimani’s assassination, Iranian state media claimed that the operation that targeted the IRGC had been aided with intelligence and logistical support by the governments of several countries, including Germany, the United Kingdom, Qatar, Kuwait and Lebanon. Meanwhile, reports by Western media alleged that “[i]ntelligence from Israel helped confirm the details” of Soleimani’s whereabouts shortly before he was assassinated. There has been no independent confirmation of these claims.

Now, however, it appears that a recently retired Israeli general, who headed the country’s military intelligence agency during Soleimani’s assassination, has claimed partial responsibility for his killing. According to the Associated Press, Major General Tamir Heyman, who until October of this year headed the Israel Defense Forces’ Military Intelligence Directorate, has become “the first official to confirm Israel’s involvement” in the controversial assassination.

Heyman is believed to have given an interview in late September to Mabalat Malam, the Hebrew-language magazine of the Israeli Intelligence Heritage Center, which is seen as closely affiliated with the Israeli intelligence community. In the interview, which is available in the current issue of the magazine, Heyman says that “Assassinating Soleimani was an achievement, since our main enemy, in my eyes, are the Iranians”. He adds that Soleimani’s killing was one of “two significant and important assassinations during my term” as head of army intelligence.

The Associated Press is among a number of news agencies that reached out to the IDF for clarification about Heyman’s comments. As of Tuesday night, the IDF had not responded to several requests for comment.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 22 December 2021 | Permalink

Turkey launches investigation after explosive found under Erdoğan guardsman’s car

Nusaybin TurkeyTURKISH AUTHORITIES HAVE LAUNCHED an investigation after a makeshift explosive device was found under the car of a police officer guarding an open-air speech by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The rally took place on Saturday in Siirt, a Kurdish-majority town located about 90 miles from the Turkish-Syrian border. The town has a symbolic significance for Erdoğan, as it is the hometown of his wife, Emine Erdoğan, and was his constituency for four years. In 2003 he won a by-election there and entered the Turkish Grand National Assembly as a member.

According to pro-government Turkish media, the makeshift bomb was affixed to the undercarriage of a private car. The car belongs to a police officer in the city of Nusaybin (pictured), in the province of Mardin, which is situated on the Turkish-Syrian border. The explosive device was detected by a bomb squad on Saturday morning, as the police officer was preparing to depart for Siirt, where he was going to help secure an outdoor rally by Erdoğan. The purpose of the rally was to gather support for the embattled Erdoğan, as the Turkish economy is undergoing its most serious recession in a generation.

Turkish media said that a specialist bomb squad was dispatched to Nusaybin upon the discovery of the device, and defused it “in a controlled manner”. Later that day, Erdoğan began his speech at the rally in Siirt by mentioning the discovery of the device, saying that the “defeats suffered by the terrorists” were bound to prompt “confessions of treachery and meanness”, which will be “revealed in time”. Southeastern Turkey, where Siirt is located, is a stronghold of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed secessionist group that Turkey has been battling for nearly 40 years.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 06 December 2021 | Permalink

European report claims Russia has retained Soviet-era assassination capabilities

Gävle Sweden

A REPORT FROM A European intelligence agency claims that the Russian state has retained the same capacity for worldwide extrajudicial executions that it had during the Soviet era. The report was disclosed by a Swedish broadcaster in association with the attempted murder of Tumso Abdurakhmanov, a blogger from the Russian province of Chechnya, who is a vocal critic of the Russian government and the Kremlin-backed governor of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov.

Originally from the Chechen capital Grozny, Abdurakhmanov, 34, lives in Sweden, from where he regularly posts videos on YouTube criticizing Kadyrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin. His YouTube channel has over 250,000 followers. In 2020, a man who traveled to Sweden from Moscow, entered Abdurakhmanov’s apartment in Gävle, Sweden, and tried to kill him with a hammer. It appears that the man was let into Abdurakhmanov’s apartment by a woman with whom Abdurakhmanov had a relationship at the time, and is now believed to have been an accomplice of the would-be-assassin.

Abdurakhmanov survived the attack. The attacker, Ruslan Mamaev, is now serving a 12-year prison sentence, while the woman, Elmira Chapiaeva, is serving an 18-month sentence. Swedish authorities say they are looking for third person, who is believed to have been the would-be-assassins’ logistical link to the Chechen government, and remains at large. According to the Swedish Security Service, known as SÄPO, the operation to kill Abdurakhmanov was organized in Moscow in 2019.

In association with Abdurakhmanov’s attempted assassination, the Swedish broadcaster SVT published yesterday excerpts from an intelligence report, which offers a broad assessment of the Kremlin’s capabilities for extrajudicial killings around the world. According to the SVT, the report was produced by an unnamed “European intelligence agency”. It claims that many of the “instigators, planners, coordinators and operatives of [Russian-organized] extrajudicial killings are usually found in the special units [spetsnaz] of the National Guard of the Russian Federation”. This is primarily the case with spetsnaz units based in Chechnya, according to the report.

The conclusion of the report is that Russia “today has the same capacity as the Soviet Union once had to conduct assassination operations sanctioned by the state” around the world. The Kremlin has used this capability to carry out numerous assassinations and attempted assassinations of dissident expatriates, defectors, and other critics of the Russian government in Europe and beyond, the report concludes.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 02 December 2021 | Permalink

Norway charges former Iranian diplomat in 1993 assassination attempt

William NygaardTHE GOVERNMENT OF NORWAY has pressed charges against two men, among them a former diplomat in the Iranian embassy in Oslo, for the attempted murder of a high-profile Norwegian publisher in 1993. The case centers on an attempt against the life of William Nygaard, a Norwegian publisher and former director of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation.

In 1989 Nygaard was behind the publication of the Norwegian edition of Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses. The bestselling novel was condemned as blasphemous by conservative Muslims, due to its portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad. In the spring of 1989, Iranian Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa (decree) sentencing to death the novel’s author and all those who had a role in publishing the book, and urging followers of Islam to execute them at will. Nygaard began receiving threats almost immediately, and was given police protection for almost a year.

On the morning of October 11, 1993, Nygaard was shot and left for dead outside his house in the northern outskirts of Oslo. He survived after being rushed to the hospital, where he remained for several months during what became a long and painstaking period of recovery. The police was unable to find the culprits of the attempted murder, and the investigation stalled after a few years, as it was unclear whether the motives were political or personal. Nygaard consistently argued that the attempt on his life was politically motivated.

Nygaard’s claims were revived in 2018, when the Norwegian Police Service said it had pressed charges against two individuals for the attempted murder of the publisher. No information was publicized about the identities of the two suspects. However, a clue emerged when a spokeswoman for Norway’s National Criminal Investigation Service said that the incident “was about more than an attack on one man” and represented “a violent attempt to shut down free speech”.

Since then there have been rumors about the identities of the two suspects. Last week, Iranian dissidents living abroad began claiming that one of the men was a Lebanese national, and the other a retired Iranian diplomat. On Friday, a report by the Norwegian Broadcasting Company stated that the Iranian former diplomat in question is Mohammad Nik-Khah. The report added that Nik-Khah served as first secretary of the Iranian embassy in Norway when Nygaard was shot, and that he now lives in Iran.

Over the weekend, a press statement issued by the Iranian embassy in Oslo confirmed that Nik-Khah served as a diplomat there in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But the statement claimed that Nik-Khah had left Norway several days prior to the attempted killing of Nygaard.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 15 November 2021 | Research credit: LCP | Permalink

Turkey announces arrest of Russian and Israeli alleged spies following crackdown

MIT Turkey

THE GOVERNMENT OF TURKEY has announced the arrest of 21 individuals, among them foreign citizens, whom it accuses of “political and military espionage” on behalf of Israel, and of planning assassinations ordered by Russia. Turkish authorities released separately two statements on Thursday, announcing the arrests of alleged spies for Israel and Russia respectively. The two sets of arrests do not appear to be connected, despite the fact that they were announced on the same day.

Six alleged assassins operating under Russian command were arrested on October 8 in Antalya, a tourist resort located on Turkey’s southern coast. Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) said the group includes four Russians, a Ukrainian and an Uzbek. They allegedly planned to kill a number of Chechen separatists who live in Turkey. In preparation of the alleged assassinations, group members “were in the process of obtaining weapons”, according to Turkish government prosecutors.

A court in Istanbul has reportedly ruled that the members of the alleged assassination team should remain behind bars, pending a trial for espionage. Meanwhile the a Russian government spokesman said on Thursday that the Kremlin was “not aware” of any Russian citizens having been arrested on espionage charges in Turkey, adding that the Russian embassy in Ankara had not been informed of any such arrests.

Meanwhile, in a separate announcement issued on Thursday, the MİT disclosed the arrests of 15 members of an alleged spy ring for Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency. Turkish media reports said the 15 individuals had been arrested in a series of raids that took place across four Turkish provinces on October 7, following a year-long counterintelligence operation. Turkish authorities claim that the spy ring monitored the activities of Palestinians living in Turkey and provided the information to the Mossad, in return “for tens of thousands of dollars and euros”. The Israeli government has not commented on these reports.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 22 October 2021 | Permalink

Iran denies murder plot after alleged assassin caught with gun and silencer in Cyprus

Nicosia Cyprus

ISRAEL HAS ACCUSED IRAN of being behind a plot to kill Israeli citizens in the Republic of Cyprus, following the arrest of a man who was reportedly found carrying a gun fitted with a silencer in the Cypriot capital Nicosia. The man reportedly entered Cyprus on a flight that landed at Larnaca International Airport last week. He is believed to be a 38-year-old Azeri national, who allegedly entered Cyprus using a Russian passport.

Cypriot police kept tabs on the suspected assassin as soon as he entered Cyprus, according to reports. IntelNews hears that the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad may have been behind a tip given to the Cypriots about the man’s presence on the island. In the days following his arrival, the suspect crossed several times into the Turkish-occupied northern region of Cyprus, using his Russian passport and “trying to keep a low profile”, according to Israeli media reports.

The Azeri man was eventually arrested in Nicosia, shortly after entering from northern Cyprus at the Agios Dometios checkpoint. Some local news reports suggest that he was found to be carrying a gun fitted with a silencer, and that he was planning to target a number of prominent Israeli business people who live on the island. Reports in Israel claim that the alleged assassin’s primary target was Teddy Sagi, an Israeli investor who owns online gambling platforms, as well as properties in the United Kingdom and Cyprus. He is believed to be among Israel’s richest citizens.

Iran has vehemently denied Israel’s claim that Cypriot police averted “an act of terror [that] was orchestrated by Iran against Israeli business people” in Cyprus. However, the Israeli government’s announcement did not go into details, while Israeli officials refused to confirm that Teddy Sagi was the target of the alleged operation.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 05 October 2021 | Permalink

Israel killed Iranian nuclear scientist using advanced robotic device, report claims

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh

ISRAEL’S PRIMARY EXTERNAL INTELLIGENCE agency, the Mossad, assassinated the lead military scientist behind Iran’s nuclear program using a remote-controlled robot, according to a new report. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was a brigadier general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Iran’s elite paramilitary force. He was assassinated along with his wife on November 27, 2020, in an armed assault that took place in the eastern outskirts of Tehran. The attack, which lasted no more than 3 minutes, took place in broad daylight. No arrests have been made in connection with the killings.

Shortly after Fakhrizadeh’s assassination, Iranian authorities claimed that the Mossad had orchestrated his killing, and Iranian media carried reports about the alleged identities of the killers. But in February of this year, the London-based weekly newspaper The Jewish Chronicle claimed that the Mossad had killed the IRGC general using a “one-ton remote-controlled gun smuggled into Iran piece by piece over eight months”. There has been no confirmation of that report, and the details behind Fakhrizadeh’s killing remain vague.

On Saturday, however, an article by The New York Times’ Ronen Bergman and Farnaz Fassihi supported the view that the Fakhrizadeh was killed by a remote-controlled advanced robotic device. According to the new report, the apparatus had been fitted by Mossad operatives into the bed of a blue Zamyad, a popular Iranian-built Nissan pickup truck model. A Belgian-made FN MAG 7.62-mm machine gun was hidden beneath decoy construction material and a heavy tarpaulin, said the article. It repeated the The Jewish Chronicle’s claim that the device had been smuggled into Iran by Mossad operatives in pieces, over an extensive period of time.

According to Bergman and Fassihi, Fakhrizadeh’s assassins operated remotely, and there was no Mossad hit squad on the ground in Tehran when the assassination occurred. In fact, the Mossad team that installed the advanced robotic apparatus “had already left Iran” by the time the trigger was pulled. Artificial intelligence was employed to ensure that the remote sniper’s actions were successful. However, the explosives that were meant to destroy the apparatus following Fakhrizadeh’s assassination partly malfunctioned, thus allowing the Iranians to access the partly damaged vehicle, machine gun and control mechanism, said the Times.

In an article published late on Saturday, Israeli English-language newspaper The Jerusalem Post said it was in a position to “confirm the accuracy of the Times report.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 20 September 2021 | Permalink

Haiti assassination probe uncovers more plotters with United States ties

Jovenel MoïseThe United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has said that at least one of the assailants who killed Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moïse, last week, had been its confidential source in the past. It also appears that one of the middlemen of the operation is a Haitian-born pastor based in the US state of Florida. It was he, according to Haitian police, who hired the assassins through a Venezuelan security company headquartered in Florida. However, this is disputed by the alleged middleman himself, who claims he was “duped”.

In a statement published on Monday, the DEA confirmed media reports that at least one of the men who participated in the assassination of President Moise was “at times […] a confidential source to the DEA”. It also appears that, following the dramatic raid on Moïse’s residence in Port Au-Prince on July 7, the suspect contacted his former DEA handler, who urged him to surrender to the Haitian authorities. The DEA is now believed to be co-operating with the Haitian National Police in its investigation of the assassination.

Additionally, at a press conference held on Sunday, Haitian police officials announced the arrest of an alleged middleman in the murky plot, who allegedly assembled the team of assassins. They named the suspect as Christian Emmanuel Sanon, 63, a native of Haiti who has lived in Florida for over two decades. Although a Christian pastor by profession, Sanon reportedly began to speak publicly against what he regarded as Haiti’s corrupt political elite in the months after the disastrous 2010 earthquake on the island.

According to the Haitian National Police, Sanon recruited the assassins using a “Florida-based Venezuelan security firm”. He then traveled to Haiti “with political intentions”, in the words of Haitian officials. He allegedly used a private airplane, which carried, apart from himself, members of what would eventually become the assassination squad. Haitian officials said that the team was initially assembled as Sanon’s bodyguard, but their mission eventually changed to encompass a “hit-squad” role. One of the alleged assassins is believed to have contacted Sanon several times on his cell phone while being on the run following the assassination.

Interestingly, however, the Associated Press reported that a Florida-based friend of Sanon claimed the 63-year-old pastor had been “duped by people claiming to represent the US State and Justice departments”. These people allegedly told Sanon they wanted to install him as president of Haiti after removing Moise. In any case, Haitian officials do not see Sanon as the mastermind of the operation; however, with Sanon now under arrest, more information about what authorities refer to as “the intellectual authors” of the assassination plot is likely to emerge.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 14 July 2021 | Permalink

Most of the commandos who killed Haiti’s president were Colombians, police says

Jovenel MoïseNEARLY ALL MEMBERS OF the heavily armed commando team that killed Haiti’s President on July 7 were Colombian citizens, while several served in the military, according to the Haitian National Police. The attack on the president’s residence, located in the Pétion-Ville suburb of Port-au-Prince, began after midnight local time on Wednesday, when a convoy of at least five vehicles carrying dozens of men arrived at the scene.

The men, described as “highly trained and heavily armed”, quickly exited the vehicles and opened fire on the security detail of President Jovenel Moïse. Many witnesses described the assailants as foreign in appearance and speaking either English or Spanish —languages that are not widely spoken in Haiti, where the local languages are Creole and French. These reports were eventually confirmed when the Haitian National Police identified two of the assailants as Joseph Vincent, 55, and James Solages, 35, both American citizens and residents of Miami’s Little Haiti community. Interestingly, Solages describes himself as a “certified diplomatic [security] agent” and is believed to have served as head of bodyguards at the Embassy of Canada in the Haitian capital.

Late on Thursday, Léon Charles, chief of Haiti’s National Police, announced that 17 suspected assailants had been captured alive, seven killed during the raid, while at least eight others remained on the run. He added that all of captured assailants are foreign and all but two are Colombian citizens. Of those, several are retired members of the Military Forces of Colombia. Overall, 26 members of the commando team were Colombian citizens, said Charles. He did not provide further information. Later that same evening, the Associated Press reported that Colombian President Ivan Duque instructed his country’s military leadership to “cooperate in the investigation” by the Haitian authorities.

Importantly, the precise motive of the assailants remains unclear. The attack was almost certainly planned well in advance, and was part of a broader plan to eliminate Moïse, who is championed and reviled by Haitians in equal measure. But the attack also appears to have been combined with an effort to justify the killing, possibly by exposing negative information about the late president following the attack. This would explain why the assailants did not leave Moïse’s residency immediately after assassinating him, but instead ransacked nearly every room of the premises, apparently looking for documents and computer drives.

It is also puzzling how such a heavily armed team, whose members were described by Haitian authorities as “well-trained professionals” did not appear to have an exit plan following the raid on the president’s residence. Their attack was sophisticated enough to penetrate Moïse’s heavy security detail, and even reach its target in a safe room inside the building, reportedly without suffering any losses. However, several assailants were shot dead or injured in firefights that erupted long after the attack. Eventually all but eight members of a 28-member commando team were either killed or captured.

In the hours after the president’s assassination, Haiti was placed under martial law by the Prime Minister, Claude Joseph, a Moïse ally who appears to have the backing of the military. This means little, however, in a country where rival armed gangs control numerous neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince and other major cities and towns. Some of these gangs are affiliated with the country’s two main political parties, the Haitian Tèt Kale Party (which supported Moïse) and the Alternative League for Haitian Progress and Emancipation, which refused to acknowledge Moïse as the legitimate head of state following the national election of 2016.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 09 July 2021 | Permalink

US Justice Department and CIA may intervene in Saudi lawsuit to protect secrets

Saad al-Jabri

THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT of Justice and the Central Intelligence Agency may intervene in a civil lawsuit filed by an exiled Saudi spy against the oil kingdom’s de facto ruler, in order to protect state secrets. In a 106-page lawsuit, filed last year with the US District Court in Washington, DC, Dr. Saad al-Jabri claims that Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, dispatched members of his “personal mercenary group”, known as the Tiger Squad, to North America, in order to assassinate him.

Al-Jabri was a courtier of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, grandson of Saudi Arabia’s founding monarch, King Abdulaziz. Bin Nayef, who was widely expected to be Saudi Arabia’s next king, eventually appointed al-Jabri Minister of State and made him his senior adviser on matters of security and intelligence —in essence his spy chief. But al-Jabri’s standing changed suddenly in 2015, when King Abdullah died and was succeeded by King Salman. Salman then named his son, Mohammed bin Salman, as his successor, effectively usurping al-Jabri’s mentor and protector, Prince bin Nayef. Within weeks, al-Jabri had been fired, while his patron, bin Nayef had gone under house arrest. Fearing for his life, al-Jabri took his eldest son, Khalid, and escaped to Canada in the middle of the night. They remain there to this day.

Bin Salman’s lawyers have dismissed al-Jabri’s lawsuit as baseless, and accuse the former spy chief of embezzling $3.4 billion from Saudi state coffers under the pretense of funding security programs. Al-Jabri’s lawyers have told the court that an “examination of the counterterrorism and national security activities of the United States government” may be necessary in order to demonstrate that their client has not embezzled state funds.

This development has US government officials worried, according to The Washington Post’s well-sourced David Ignatius. He reports that, in April of this year, the US Department of Justice filed a document in a federal court in Massachusetts, in which it outlines its plans to intervene in al-Jabri’s lawsuit against bin Salman. According to the Department of Justice, al-Jabri’s legal team may intend “to describe information concerning alleged national security activities”, which is something the US government would like to prevent.

According to Ignatius, the Department of Justice could invoke the rarely used “state secrets privilege”, which allows the US government to refuse to disclose information when ordered to do so by a court of law, if there is a “reasonable danger” that doing so could threaten US national security. Ignatius added that the Central Intelligence Agency is also looking into whether it could resist a judge’s orders to disclose information pertaining to the case of al-Jabri.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 24 May 2021 | Permalink

Austria expels alleged assassin accused of working for Turkish government

Berivan AslanAUSTRIAN AUTHORITIES HAVE REPORTEDLY expelled from the country an Italian citizen of Turkish origin, who was allegedly hired by the Turkish government as an assassin. The man, Feyyaz Öztürk, 53, reportedly turned himself in to Austrian intelligence last year. According to the British press, Öztürk claimed he had been hired by the Turkish government to assassinate Berivan Aslan (pictured). Aslan, who is of Kurdish heritage, is a Viennese parliamentarian and a leading critic of Turkey’s treatment of its minority Kurdish population.

News reports claimed Öztürk’s mission was to terrorize members of the Kurdish expatriate community in Austria and elsewhere in Europe, who tend to be vocal critics of the Turkish government’s human rights record. British newspaper The Telegraph claimed that Öztürk had been tasked by Ankara to “ensure [Aslan] was hurt or died”, so that “other politicians get the message”. Öztürk also claimed that Turkish intelligence officials had blackmailed him in order to force him to carry out Alsan’s assassination. Moreover, he had been asked to kill two more Austrian public figures who are of Kurdish origin.

However, Öztürk reportedly aborted the assassination operation in March of last year, after he broke his leg in an accident during a trip to the northern Italian city of Rimini. Austrian prosecutors confirmed that an official investigation on Öztürk had concluded. It found that he had carried out “military espionage on behalf of a foreign state”, but did it not identify the state. Turkey has strongly denied that its intelligence agencies have any connection with Öztürk.

Öztürk’s espionage trial has been scheduled for February 4. However, according to Austrian law, he cannot be held in pre-trial detention and must be freed prior to his day in court. Rather than allow him freedom of movement inside Austria, the authorities decided to expel him to Italy. Öztürk’s lawyer said yesterday that her client had been designated “an imminent danger to public security” and taken to the Italian border shortly before Christmas.

The lawyer added that Öztürk wishes to return to Austria to attend his trial in February. There are suspicions among intelligence observers that the Austrian state would prefer Öztürk not to return to Austria, so as to avoid exposing espionage methods and sources in court. Meanwhile, Aslan said she remains under police protection, which was initially extended to her last year, when the alleged assassination plot against her became known.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 13 January 2021 | Permalink

Saudi crown prince dismisses US lawsuit brought by ex-spy official as ‘baseless’

Saad al-JabriA LAWSUIT FILED IN a United States court by a Saudi former senior intelligence official, accuses Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman of planning an illegal assassination on Canadian soil. But in a new court filing, the crown prince denies the accusation and claims that it is an attempt to distract attention from the alleged crimes carried out by the plaintiff.

The target of the alleged assassination attempt is Dr. Saad al-Jabri, who rose through the ranks of the Saudi aristocracy in the 1990s, under the tutelage of his patron, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef. Prince bin Nayef is the grandson of Saudi Arabia’s founding monarch, King Abdulaziz, and until 2015 was destined to succeed King Abdullah and occupy the kingdom’s throne. Eventually, bin Nayef appointed Dr. al-Jabri as Minister of State and made him his most senior and trusted adviser on matters of security and intelligence.

But Dr. al-Jabri’s standing changed suddenly in 2015, when King Abdullah died and was succeeded by King Salman. Salman then quickly began to rely on his son, Mohammed bin Salman, who he eventually named as his successor. That meant that Dr. al-Jabri’s mentor and protector, Prince bin Nayef, was effectively usurped. Bin Salman abruptly fired Dr. al-Jabri in September of 2015. Less than two years later, bin Nayef was dismissed from his post as Minister of Interior and went under house arrest in Saudi Arabia’s coastal resort city of Jeddah. Fearing for his life, Dr. al-Jabri took his eldest son, Khalid, and escaped to Canada in the middle of the night. They remain there to this day.

In a 106-page lawsuit, filed in August with the United States District Court in Washington, DC, Dr. al-Jabri claims that bin Salman sent spies to conduct physical surveillance on him. The lawsuit also claims that bin Salman dispatched members of his “personal mercenary group”, known as the Tiger Squad, to Canada, in order to assassinate Dr. al-Jabri. The members of the squad allegedly arrived at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport sometime in mid-October 2018. The documents claim that the Tiger Squad members traveled to Canada just days after they were dispatched to Istanbul, Turkey, where they killed Saudi journalist Jamal al-Khashoggi. However, they were allegedly turned back by suspicious Canada Border Services Agency officers.

Dr. al-Jabri’s lawsuit relies on the 1991 Torture Victim Protection Act, which allows non-US citizens to file lawsuits in US courts for alleged human rights abuses that took place outside the US. But lawyers for the crown prince claim that he, along with his father, represent the top echelon of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family. As such, they claim, the crown prince is “entitled to status-based immunity from any suit in a US court”. Therefore, they argue, Dr. al-Jabri’s complaint “fails as a legal pleading”. The crown prince’s lawyers also accuse the plaintiff and his associates of having embezzled nearly $11 billion in funds belonging to the Saudi government.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 09 December 2020 | Permalink

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